Mental health is a serious global health issue, with one in four people affected by conditions such as depression, anxiety or addiction and ‘one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide‘.
I am one of these people *raises hand* and if you’re reading this article, you may be too, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s taken me years to come to terms with the fact that I’m not alone; I probably won’t end up in a mental hospital and even if I do…that’s ok.
Mental health issues are expected to continue rising globally, alongside climate change disasters which are creating a hot mess. If we can reduce both of these issues even marginally, then we will be much better off. There are many challenges surrounding mental health, however, one significant challenge is the stigma and fear of discrimination.
Treatments are available, but nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders…’ – World Health Organization (WHO).
I’m here to let you know that there are 450 million people with mental health issues, and there is treatment available. The stigma that mental conditions are ‘weak’ or ‘crazy’ prevents people, especially men, from seeking help and it’s literally killing us. With around 800,000 people dying each year from suicide, changing the conversation around mental health may help to reduce these occurrences.
Now I know we shouldn’t idolise celebrities, however, it might bring some comfort to know that mental health affects everyone and no amount of money and fame can change that. The following people in the public eye are helping to change the conversation around mental health, and by doing so, are encouraging others to do the same.
1. Lady Gaga
The singer, actress, activist and all-round badass boss, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta aka Lady Gaga, is an absolute queen. She uses her platform to openly talk about mental health struggles, sexual assault survival and LGBTQI issues (Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual people are twice as likely to experience mental health disorders). Her own admission to struggling with mental health issues such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) helps others to seek help. Lady Gaga has also set up a charity for young people, specifically mental health programs, called Born This Way Foundation.
We can no longer afford to be silenced by stigma or stymied by misguided ideas that portray these conditions as a matter of weakness or moral failing.”
2. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
If there’s ever a person to look up to that’s proof that mental health issues don’t make you weak, it’s actor and ex-pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He is literally worshipped for being one of the toughest men around, and also happens to be one of the world’s highest paid actors. Dwayne has been publicly open about his previous bouts of depression, having also witnessed his Mother attempt suicide when he was just 15 years old. He revealed his secret battles with depression just this year in an interview with The Express, “One of the most important things that I know helped me with the multiple times that I had gone through my own episodes of depression, was making sure that I was talking to people.”
3. Ruby Rose
For anyone that hasn’t heard of Australian actress and model Ruby Rose – get yourself to Google right now. She is well known for playing tough characters, with the recent news that she will be Batwoman (also the first openly gay lead of a superhero show). She is a strong advocate for the LGBT community, and also open about her own personal struggles with bipolar disorder and depression.
In an interview with the Guardian this year, she explained her own struggles of being gender-fluid and trying to be feminine, “And then one day it just got too much. I shaved my head and just went ‘Fuck you’ to everyone who thought I need to look a certain way.”
4. Zayn Malik
As someone that suffers from anxiety, I have a lot of respect for Zayn’s honesty and bravery around his struggles with anxiety. Zayn was a member of highly successful English band One Direction, leading him to branch out on his own with more successful singles. He’s also dating the beautiful supermodel Gigi Hadid. Last year, he cancelled a string of gigs releasing an open statement that his anxiety overpowered him and he was unable to get on stage. He has since opened up about previously suffering from an eating disorder and social anxiety, encouraging other males to not be afraid to talk about their issues. He’s changing the stigma around male mental health and for that – bravo.
5. Laverne Cox
I think actress Laverne Cox is the world’s coolest person. As a transgender black woman in America, she regularly fights for transgender rights and mental health awareness, building communities to support each other such as #transisbeautiful. Laverne regularly talks about the struggles she had growing up in school and being different, leading to suicidal thoughts and depression. Being older and wiser, she is now comfortable with who she is and uses her platform to speak out on these issues. Yay.
6. Robert Downey Jr
Robert is a beacon of light for mental health struggles. His spiral from drug and alcohol addiction, bipolar and depression was in the public eye as a Hollywood actor, as well as doing a stint in prison and partaking in multiple rehabilitation programs. Since then, he has completely turned around, becoming one of the most loved and highest paid actors (erm..have you not heard of Iron Man!?) He is now sober and remains an inspiration for anyone struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders to turn things around.
Even though young rapper and singer Logic (real name Sir Robert Bryson Hall II) has had hot success recently in the music charts, he has had real lows in his life. He understands the fear of extreme anxiety, having had a severe panic attack and ending up hospitalized. Last year he released a song about mental health with Alessia Cara and Khalid, with the name and chorus being the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255. Logic wrote in a tweet, “I made this song for all of you who are in a dark place and can’t seem to find the light.
If there’s anyone out there going through a hard time, you got this, seek help and talk to someone. Here is a comprehensive list of National helplines and websites or call Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636.
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